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Panigale V4 vs. Panigale V4S track comparison

Posted on August 05, 2018 by acruhl

(This was the only picture I got of both bikes together. Suck.)

Ok, that title sounds a little dramatic for what was really only a 5 lap ride on a Panigale V4S that wasn’t mine. But I did ride it back to back with my own Panigale V4 (base model), so there are some useful takeaways.

First, this particular bike had the full Akrapovic slip on exhaust and map (the one you buy from Ducati), and it was noticeably faster than my stock base model bike. The engines in these bikes are supposed to be the same from the factory. So that being equal, the exhaust and map makes a very noticeable difference in straight line speed at high rpm. It’s hard to compare at lower RPM through corners because power is so high on both bikes. And the V4S was in Sport mode (softer throttle map) and my base model was in race mode. However, on the straight in 4th gear, it was obvious that the V4S with exhaust was faster, no question. As if you need more power on this bike…

What I really wanted to know is what do you get for your extra $6000 or so, and is it worth it?

Cornering first impressions are that the V4S goes side to side noticeably easier than the base model. This is probably due to the lighter wheels, which are always better than heavier wheels for the track. Probably the lighter battery, mounted up high by the gas cap doesn’t hurt either. I’m not a huge fan of the looks of the forged aluminum Ducati wheels at all, but you can’t argue with the results.

The V4S also was much smoother than my base model bike. The electronic suspension was probably doing something right from what I can tell. Transitions from braking to full lean could be done with a bit more confidence, and there was less movement at the apex of corners. I was holding back a little because this wasn’t my bike and crashing was not an option. So I can’t say if electronic suspension is the way to go when you’re going for track records. But it’s better for track day pace for sure.

I think the light wheels were also helping suspension action. It’s easier to control a lighter wheel, and it’s going to deflect easier over bumps. A heavier wheel will try to move the whole bike over bumps more than a lighter wheel.

Conclusion: I like adjusting my own suspension, it’s part of the fun of going fast. So my preference is for manual adjustment in the base model. However, I think for the average track day rider the V4S’s electronic suspension and lighter wheels are a real improvement you can feel and appreciate. But you can easily get a base model bike, buy some lighter wheels, and upgrade the suspension for less money… This is my preference. So I’m still convinced the base model Panigale V4 is the better value overall. Most Ducati buyers aren’t into value though, which is fine. These people should buy the V4S. It works better.

Hopefully I’ll have the time and money to try some upgraded wheels, and I’m hoping to get the Showa BPF front suspension sprung and valved properly for me. When a nice rear shock shows up on the aftermarket (Penske!), I will probably go for one of those as well. And I will have still spent less than a V4S!

Edit (8/11/18): I was told the V4S test bike has the Akrapovic slip on, which is even more impressive in regards to how much more power it has. Also, something else I didn’t take into account is the slip on is something like 15 pounds lighter than the stock exhaust (correct me if I’m wrong). That plus the wheels and lighter battery really leave an impression on how the bike goes side to side.

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